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Are Maxi Dresses Flattering?

Remember when maxi dresses were just for vacations and evenings out? Nowadays, they are a summer staple that can be taken from day to night and work to play just by adding the right shoes and accessories.

Whether you want to look romantic or sporty, boho or beachbound, you are sure to find a maxi dress to suit your style. These floor-length stunners are essential pieces that every 21st century lady should own.

Many shy away from these frocks, however, because they are worried that they provide a less-than-ideal fit. As such, many modern designers have ensured that their maxi dresses will offer a more flattering fit. As a matter of fact, different types of dresses can accentuate different figures while hiding their flaws.

Does this mean that plus size and petite women can also wear maxi dresses and look fabulous? Sure they can! No one ever said that you have to be a runway model to don the maxi look. The key is choosing a flattering style that highlights your attributes and is tailored to your body.

Choosing the Right Length

Remember, every designer has his or her own idea of what a maxi dress length should be. First and foremost, you need to decide on your ideal length. Here, “ideal” refers to your personal preference as well as what is ideal for your height. A maxi dress should touch the tip of your toes, but should, at the least, touch the back of your ankles. If you are planning on wearing it for a particular occasion, bring the shoes that you are going to wear with you to try on dresses. There is a huge difference in height between stilettos and flip-flops, for example.

If you are shopping online, some sites offer dress measurements that end at the lowest part of the dress and begin at the shoulder. This is a great help when you are unable to try the dress on before buying it. Just have a friend measure you ahead of time.

That said, it can be really discouraging to shop for maxi dresses if you are on the petite side. This is usually classified as 5’4” and under. For these women, trying on a maxi means swimming in a lot of fabric. Usually, the best course of action, if you really enjoy this style, is to hem the dress or take it to a tailor to be altered.

Conversely, taller ladies may find it difficult to find a frock that is long enough. However, there are specific designs that fit these women just right. Or, they can be hemmed a bit to make attractive midis.

Finding an Accommodating Style

After finding the perfect length, the next step is finding a cut that eliminates the circus tent appearance that many ladies associate with maxi dresses. Others fear that a particular cut may accentuate something they’d rather hide. Either way, choosing different styles, designs, materials, colors and patterns can alleviate these fears. As you will see, anyone can rock a maxi dress!

Just keep your body shape in mind, and you will surely find the perfect maxi dress. Here are some ideas for each body type:


  • Solid colors, small prints and micro-patterns make the body look taller.
  • Try well-placed ruffles and lace, such as a boho look.
  • Tiered skirts make you look taller.
  • Use a skinny belt to elongate your bottom half.
  • Stripes and vertical prints cause the eyes to cast downward, making legs appear longer.


  • Bold prints, such as leopard skin or florals overwhelm curves and even them out.
  • Solid colors work well with darker skin tones.
  • Look for a dress that skims rather than clings.
  • Choose thicker straps or strapless dresses so the straps don’t dig into your shoulders. This is especially true if you are buxom.
  • Try a wrap style to define your waistline and keep the emphasis off your bust. The cinched waistline keeps you from appearing larger than you are.
  • Avoid pleats and ruffles that can add fullness to curves.
  • A-line or column maxis with spaghetti straps hug curves without exaggerating them.


  • Capped sleeves cover broad shoulders, offer cover and minimize a larger bust.
  • Halter dresses allow larger shoulders to look much smaller and take attention away from the mid-section.
  • Wrap dresses minimize the rounder shape of the plus-size woman while covering and flattering her often-larger bust. Try it with a vertical pattern to elongate the body and make it appear thinner.
  • Conversely, try a low-cut dress and show off some cleavage with a plunging V-neck that also lengthens your body.

Full Hips and Bottom

  • A boho maxi dress with romantic flutter sleeves and a flowing skirt can take the focus off the bottom and hips while simultaneously camouflaging them.
  • Add a chunky necklace to draw eyes upward.
  • Try a silhouette tank maxi in solid black. It should be form-fitting on top and flowy on the bottom.
  • A patchwork or colorblock dress draws attention to the waist and not the bottom half of the body.


  • Off-the-shoulder styles and high necks show more skin, which allows the body to appear fuller.
  • Plunging necklines and open backs provide the illusion of a larger bust.
  • Try a maxi with molded cups that are detailed with beads or other décor to enhance busts.
  • Distract eyes from the chest with a two-tone design.
  • Try a high-waisted empire dress that pushes the bust up and hides the absence of curves below.
  • Add a belt to your dress to provide a more visible waistline, or choose a dress with a drawstring to fasten through the middle.

Using Colors and Patterns to Your Advantage

Colors and patterns also determine whether or not a particular maxi dress flatters you. Believe it or not, they can be just as important as the cut or style.

For example, if you are plus size, more intricate patterns can actually make you look larger while medium and large prints allow you to look svelte and confident. On the other hand, big patterns can overwhelm a petite gal, and she will look like she is drowning in her chosen dress.

A dark colored or black maxi dress can make any lady appear slimmer and looks great on practically anyone except those with slight frames. These women look much better in brighter colors, pastels or in a white maxi dress.

Vertical lines help you look thinner and taller. They do not look good on ladies who are already thin and tall but look splendid on almost everyone else. They add height and detract from curves.

In conclusion, maxi dresses are a new go-to for adding style to your summer wardrobe, and for good reason. With a little research, knowledge and careful planning, you are sure to find the frock of your dreams, even if you previously thought the look wasn’t for you. But now you should know that there is a maxi dress out there for everyone!